I’m delighted to have been nominated for the Northern Enterprise Awards 2022. This has been a year of change for Wobbly Music and I’m grateful that my artists have continued to support the business during this period.
I’ve always set Wobbly Music out to be innovative. Initially, I was the first label to support artists in their mature years. Talented people who were looking for more exposure, that the major labels wouldn’t touch due to their age. Later, I was the first label to sign both performing and and non-performing artists & songwriters, and the first to create a record deal that artists could sign without sacrificing their independence. My next innovation was a completely unbiased record company. I created a website where any artist could sign a deal with no questions asked. I was relying on the artists to know their own talents and truly believe that if they were just given the opportunity to release a record, they didn’t have to accept “no” for an answer and would be given that opportunity to compete in the marketplace.
My other innovations have extended to the music consumers. I was the first to include a “one-click” music licensing option with set prices in my record store. Commercial consumers no longer had to spend ages looking for the copyright holders and then have to negotiate licensing deals. I also sold personal licenses without the, then common, “DRM” attached; so that consumers had our permission to copy their purchases onto other devices for their own personal use, and even share them with their close friends and family. I even included a “lifetime guarantee”, where so long as they had a copy of their purchase receipt, they could always download a replacement file if they lost their music from a hard drive failure.
Many of these innovations still remain in my business structure, although most have been refined in some way. I have a new deal currently in the pipeline that hankers back to my old idea of being a completely unbiased label. However, I have had to refine it to accept all genres, but not necessarily all artists who apply. This is due to time contraints more than anything, as I found I couldn’t always rely on my collaborators (or even the artists themselves) to communicate and work within a reasonable time frame.
The markets have also changed a lot since my early innovations. It is now necessary to work with people who are really commited to building their business, and will, at the right time, be prepared to invest hard cash into their business. My new deals will be structured to help with this situation and will most benefit those on low incomes or part/full time employment; or those who have important things that take up a percentage of their spare time, such as caring for sick or elderly relatives.
However, not all of my innovative business ideas have managed to see the light of day…. Yet.
My idea for “Sponsorship deals” never got off the ground. This was partly due to the MP3 tag technology changing. Originally, for a short while at least, it was possible to embed a flash video into the ID3 tag. My sponsorship deal was designed around that feature. It is still possible to do it as a video file, but not as an MP3. It also meant that I would need someone to sell the advertising and someone to create the videos. It is unlikely that I’ll find the time to do those things myself. However, I wouldn’t say no if the right person offered to help!
Another innovation that I’m still pretty sure could make an impact, is a media distribution and sales engine. I created a whole business plan for that but I couldn’t find a developer to partner with me on it. I designed this in 2008 but even after 14 years I’ve still not seen anything else like it on the Internet. So if you know any good coders that might be looking for something to do in their spare time, let me know!
So, back to the nomination… I’ve decided to decline the offer. Why on earth would I do that? I hear you ask! The simple reason is that despite all my innovations, I’ve never made any kind of sizable profit in this business. It has mostly revolved around a passion for the industry and a desire to help people that has allowed it to persist for 18 years or more. Frankly, whilst I want my artists to be successful, I’ve always given my artists far more value in time and services than they’ve been able to cover with their record sales. I don’t think that is what these kind of business award ceremonies are all about. Yes, innovation is one of the categories, but I’m pretty sure that they would quickly consider that to be irrelevant as soon as they find out that my business has never made any money!
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